She required assistance to get up from the pew and walk the few steps to the podium.
But for well over an hour afterwards, Gianna Jessen stood on her own.
She stood for principles not always appealing or politically correct.
She stood for life, her own and those of hundreds of thousands not yet born, or that will never be.
She stood for truth, not a popular truth but a moral truth.
She stood. Against all odds, she stood.
She wasn’t even supposed to be alive, much less stand.
Gianna’s mom, a 17-year-old California teen-ager, tried to abort her daughter about six weeks short of full term. In the womb, Gianna was bathed in a salt solution intended to suffocate her so she would be born, but born dead.
Gianna likened it to the three Hebrews in the fiery furnace in Babylon. And as with them, she firmly believes she was not alone in the fire.
She told the 350 of us attending the SLV Women’s Resource Center fund-raiser this month, “I believe in the time that this man was trying to take my life, God himself was just holding me.”
God has been holding her ever since — even when her human mother did not, even when her first foster parents did not, even when potential boyfriends did not.
Celebrating another birthday that was never meant to be, Gianna turned 36 this month.
She would still love to marry and have children but recognizes her cerebral palsy, caused by the failed abortion, puts many men off. She told us how painful that was for her, not the illness as much as the loneliness it forced on her life. She talked about talking pretty plainly with God about it, as she talks pretty bluntly with everyone she meets, and His answer to her was she was too special for Him to let her go to just anybody.
She may never have a husband or children.
What she has, and she understands it, is a message to the world that few others could give, or at least could give and be heard.
She is willing to share her story, and recently it seems that God has been calling her to Italy, where her message is reaching many people. She told us she would love to meet Andrea Bocelli and sing the “Doxology” with him. That is a dream she has, and I hope it comes true.
Gianna, who by “rights” should never have talked, sings. She ended her presentation in Alamosa by singing “You Are My Sunshine.”
Her music, her words, her fearlessness touched my soul.
And there was something else about her that touched my heart, the heart of a mother, though one that has never borne a child.
I am the same age as her mother, a woman who apparently didn’t want her when she born and still didn’t want her when she met her years later at an event where Gianna was speaking. The woman told her she was an embarrassment to the family and went on to spew out hateful words towards her.
When I heard her tell that very painful part of her story, I wanted to run up on the platform and hold her in my arms, as her mother should have done.
I wanted to scream at all those in her life who had mistreated and harmed her, not only those who physically disabled her but those who hurt her heart.
I wanted to shout at them, “this is not a fetus to be discarded but a child of God to be loved and cared for.”
She said she knows in God’s eyes she is a princess, but I want her to hear it from the rest of us, too.
She is so valuable, so precious, so wonderful.
I went to her Facebook site afterwards and sent a message I hope she received.
I told her I would be proud to have a daughter like her.